Chrystie Crownover, Bruce Jenner’s first wife, was the first to know about the decathlete’s struggle with his identity.
During Jenner’s 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer, the 65-year-old former Olympian revealed that Crownover was the first person he ever told about his struggle and his desire to become a woman.
Crownover confirmed this during an interview with Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos and said that she couldn’t “remember the exact words because it was such a shock to me, but he opened up his heart and confessed, and he had to share this deep, dark secret."
— E! Online (@eonline) April 27, 2015
Crownover was Jenner’s college sweetheart and the two got married in 1972. They have two children, Burt and Casey Jenner.
The daughter of a Mormon minister, Crownover admitted that she had a difficult time processing what Jenner said.
"It's so hard to wrap your head around it, particularly because he was such a manly man," she said. "He never indicated anything feminine in his demeanor."
Despite Jenner’s revelation and her own confusion, Crownover shared that "it didn't threaten me. It didn't threaten our marriage.” She said that their marriage ended due to other reasons.
“It was an underlying unrest and an underlying dissatisfaction of being married that led to our divorce. His career as a decathlete was over. There were a lot of changes in his life that made him an unhappy guy right then,” she shared.
The two have since moved on from their marriage and Crownover said she watched the monumental ABC 20/20 special with Jenner and his family.
Even though the experience was “surreal,” Crownover said it was still great “because the family was together and that’s what I’m most proud of.”
And despite the “pain” she saw in Jenner’s eyes while they were watching the interview, she believes “it was cathartic to watch it together.”